*YAWN* Snork…

Wait, this place is still here? Geez, I forgot…That life thing, funny how years pass…

Kid, making a living, etc.

Now I’m middle aged. How the fuck did THAT happen?

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I get my life back now…

So, after promising myself that I’d be here on a regular basis, my father decided (unexpectedly) to run for the state house of representatives in Kentucky. Democrats are unpopular right now, and we lost. I look for a silver lining in everything so here’s what I’m going to concentrate on:

 

I don’t have to go through this again every other year

 

I can start writing again instead of knocking on stranger’s doors and eating at pancake breakfasts every saturday and sunday

 

I can start working on the blog again

 

People get the leadership they deserve.

 

So rather than sour grapes or ranting about the state of the country, I’ll just say that I live on the top of a very large hill. There are no trees on this hill. It is a very safe place to sit on the porch, drink a beer, write, and watch the country burn around me.

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How to begin

I’ve been quiet on the blog, but I’ve been studying. One thing I’ve done is stop reading so much literary fiction and instead reading more commercial fiction. I haven’t resorted to “pulp” fiction yet, at least not in the modern sense. I’ve read some Richard Matheson and the like, but I’ve been reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz and Michael Crichton. I’ve been looking for the perfect beginning to books, the kind of beginning that puts the reader immediately in the place and time of the story. This is the first paragraph of “Sphere” by Michael Crichton:

 

WEST OF TONGA

For a long time the horizon had been a monotonous flat blue line separating the Pacific Ocean from the sky. The Navy helicopter raced forward, flying low, near the waves. Despite the noise and the thumping vibration of the blades, Norman Johnson fell asleep. He was tired; he had been traveling on various military aircraft for more than fourteen hours. It was not the kind of thing a fifty-three-year-old professor of psychology was used to.

 

I’ve not been moved to blog lately, but reading this seemed comment-worthy. There’s a lot going on here, and we have a hook (why is a fifty-three-year-old professor of psychology on this trip), we know that Norman Johnson has been carried to the other side of the world very quickly, in a Navy helicopter, that he’s been in the air a long time, flying low, and the title “West of Tonga” lends the entire thing an air of the exotic. It was a learning moment, I guess, and I wanted to share.

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How to be a writer…

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/writer

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Ode to roadkill

“It’s just a cat,” he tells himself as a flattened lump of fur recedes in the rear view mirror, lines in the road coming together with distance behind a twitching carcass. “There’s a billion of the damned things in the world.” He hits the volume as David Lee Roth squeals, “I don’t feel tardy!” leaving the road behind with the memory of a cat that briefly thumped under tires.

“It’s too far away to matter,” she tells herself, mesmerized by the chrome and speed of the approaching thing. For the damage done, there was very little pain. Little brains are capable of understanding mortality too, especially when one evolves to make her living at killing. They can even keep memories, and recollections of warm laps and belly rubs flit by like butterflies. The face of The Child is visible before closed eyes, saying words she can’t comprehend but that reverberate within the tiny part of her brain capable of plumbing the fathoms of warmth, and comfort, and love. The cold darkness of the coming eternal night holds no fear compared to the memory of her family, and in her final breaths gentle purrs rumble past shattered and bloody teeth.

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New Flash Fiction

Terribleminds flash fiction challenge: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/03/04/flash-fiction-friday-seven-deadly-sins/

Seven deadly sins: I’m to choose one (I chose wrath, because, yumm, wrath is juicy) and write 1000 words or less. Chuck did a blog post a few weeks ago regarding use of short sentences and sentence fragments and how they can lead to breathless pacing. Tell me if you think it works.

Warning- as you will find in many of my flash fiction pieces, triggers are abundant. These things bring out the evil in me. Everything about this has pain, unresolved frustration, this is a nightmare scene. It is the aftermath of a rape. You have been warned.

Shame. It knows no logic, recognizes no truth. It only begets more shame, painting blue curlicues on an emotional canvas, always coming back to me. My fault. Somehow, I’m supposed to accept that the rape was my fault. I always do.

We were friends, once. Geez, I never knew, you know, that he was LIKE THAT. I still can’t accept it. The physical pain, yea, it was bad. The fact that I was stupid enough to be the victim, though, is something in myself I can never forgive. He said I wanted it. Maybe he thought that was true, maybe I made him believe that.

I’ve always been a strong man, but lately I haven’t been able to get out of bed. My body isn’t broken, but something’s broken in my head. Once I realized this, that my head was broken, I found the tool I needed to set things right. Motivation? No, that’s not quite the right word. A defense? Maybe. Getting rid of the perpetrator may be the necessary prescription to lance the festered wounds in my psyche. Pain, anger, and guilt might be banished with the simple taking of a life. His final exhalation breathing new air into me. Or, as the devil in me says, maybe I’m just using big words to justify revenge. That word, revenge. The only word that makes me want to rise, and revisit my life.

Revenge is a gateway word, like alcohol is a gateway drug. Words like revenge lead to other words, like violence, like murder. Words lead to actions. Actions lead to consequences.
I should kill him. That’s what I should do. But is that what he deserves? Do I deserve the guilt, the trial, the possible punishment? After all, couldn’t it be said that I wanted it? That I brought all this on myself? Dammit, there I go again, blaming myself. Nope. Never again. The days of blaming myself are over. Doing something about it-those days have begun.

Planning. All it takes is a plan. With the plan, my emotions awaken. Flames warm a frozen conscience. But I have no conscience about what I’ll do to him. Fuck him.

Skulk outside his garage on a rainy night. Awaiting his arrival. Mist halos the porch lights behind me. Every car that passes on the streets plucks my fear and excitement like fingers on guitar strings. The ultimate revenge.

I gathered cigarette butts from a Waffle House ashtray this morning, and I gently press them into the dirt. “Reasonable doubt,” I explain. Insurance in case I get caught. Somebody else’s DNA at the crime scene.

I wait in the mist for the twin spotlights of his sports car to burn holes in the night around me. Hold my wrath in check, ready to lash out when the time is right. Lance the wound.
At last, he arrives. The giant door lifting slowly, rumbling in response to his remote.

He drives in. I crawl in behind. You can’t see me, but I see you. Aluminum bat ready, this will be the sweetest home run ever hit. At last, I’ll see the fear in HIS eyes.

The car door opens, shoes click on concrete floor. Deep breath. Now or never. Goodbye, life of self-pity. Goodbye guilt. I’m taking control, bloody fucking control.

Launch out from behind car, swing bat, shatter bone. That’s the plan. But wet feet gather little purchase on smooth concrete, and my launch becomes a marionette fall, the bat rings against the floor to roll under the car. I lunge at his legs, the element of surprise still on my side…

His knee meets my nose half-lunge. Helpless on the floor, like a turtle on its back, I try to resolve the blurred image of the garage ceiling. I must have been knocked out, my mind drifting in the current. At last I have the rudder again, awareness returning at its own pace.

The garage door is closed now. He has the bat. I’m on my clammy back on cold concrete. He leans over me, smug. “Knew I’d see you again someday, lover. You want to come inside?”

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The excitement is back

I’ve been stealing time from my family, ignoring my friends, and locking myself away at lunch every day again. My wife knows what’s up, I’ve got another writing bug. I’ve promised myself 500 words per day but I find myself with well over a thousand before I know what’s happening. Even the mooshy middle of my story is exciting, because it’s not mooshy. Solid. Stable. I’m not doing time at the keyboard, I’m on vacation while I’m here. This is the sweet spot, and I’m riding high.

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Shame on You AOL/Huffington! NO More Literary Booty Calls

If Money and Power are two of the metrics and Ms. Huffington calls them LEGS then what exactly is this THIRD METRIC she wants me to embrace and why do I suddenly feel dirty all over again?

Source: Shame on You AOL/Huffington! NO More Literary Booty Calls

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Flash Fiction (again) from Terribleminds.com

So, I had to go and pick the hardest title on the list. I couldn’t go with something that would write itself, I had to be a smartass. Well, here it is, I don’t know. The best I could do with a difficult title…

The Living House’s Rabbit
Roscoe bays first. He always does. The brambles shake with his excitement. A white tail in the brush thrashes. The other dogs sprint to him from all around, diving into the thicket lest they miss any action. Now Molly and Jet have the scent too.

I don’t see this rabbit, but I can tell by the dogs that it’s on the move. They cross the stream, choked with trash where some asshole used this place as a dump. I can see the dogs sprinting along the washed out road, and I know where that rabbit went. I’ve hunted this place a thousand times. No two chases are the same, but once the rabbits hit that road it always ends the same way.

Crossing the stream I notice that crawfish and minnows don’t seem to mind the old refrigerator or the tires. To them, it’s just convenient cover. Maybe trash isn’t trash to nature, only to humans. Creatures of the woods figure their own things out.

Twisting through the brambles, shotgun over my head to avoid scratching the stock, I come out on the road. It’s washed out on one side badly enough that a portion of the stream trickles along it in the rut. One track is still solid, though, and I follow it, listening to the dogs.

They’re at the house.

The rabbits always go to the house from this road. It’s a beacon to them, almost a guarantee of survival with the pack nipping at a tuft of cottony tail. I haven’t ever killed one once they get to the house; the best I can hope to do is head them off beforehand.

I cross the stream again and the house comes into view through the woods. My grandmother’s grandfather built this house in the 1860’s. The metal roof still keeps it dry, and the shingles still keep the walls watertight where they are still attached. Many have fallen off, though, and lay scattered like oak leaves around the base of a tree. Each time I return, I see that another one, or two, or three, has fallen off. One of the bricks has fallen out of the chimney since I was here last. Empty windows look out into a meadow to the north, and woods to the south.
The dogs are sniffing around the rotten porch, yelping and howling their disapproval. They know it’s nearby. They can smell it. They feel it.

Mollie slips under the porch through a hole chewed out years ago by rodents. Man isn’t the only creature that builds and changes the landscape for future generations.

The doors are long gone, just empty gaps in the walls. Surprisingly, the floors are still in good shape despite years of rain coming through windows and doors. Vines choke the chimney, seeking the promise of light at the top.

Underneath the floor, I hear the beagles. Sniffing, scratching, whining for something I know they’ll never get. Groundhogs have dug holes under the house, perfect for rabbits to use in escape of their pursuers. It’s O.K. though, the woods are full of rabbits. I sit on the bottom step in the kitchen. One of my favorite spots in the world. My grandmother is a child again, warming her hands in front of the hearth. The cooking stove glows. The pantry shelves stocked with jars of preserves, damsons and strawberry and blackberry. A pie on the table. People I don’t know go about the daily business of living a simpler life. A harder life. The walls weren’t insulated. The doors weren’t sealed. How did they get through a winter in this icebox?

I don’t know how long I sit on the steps. When I come out of the dream the beagles are gone, looking for another rabbit. They’ve already given up on this one. I don’t blame them. I’m sure they remember this house too. It takes care of its rabbits.
The front yard still, even after almost 80 years of abandonment, looks domestic. The flower beds still explode with buttercups and lilies every spring. An old tire still twists gently at the end of a hempen rope. My grandmother, and her mother before that, played here. Time, it seems, has infinite weight. I find myself missing family I never met.

The rabbit sticks its head out from under the porch, tentatively twitching its nose for danger. Sniffing none, it hops out. One hop, then two. Eyes, ears, and nose electric, ready at the first hint of danger to bolt back to safety. Detecting none, it nibbles at the edge of the flower bed. It would be an easy shot from here, but I don’t raise the gun. I laugh to myself with the realization that I don’t want the shot hitting the house. It shouldn’t matter. But the house is somehow living, keeping memories alive from a time that nobody remembers. If this living house wants to protect its rabbits, who am I to take them away?

I wonder what my great-great grandfather would think about this. A fat rabbit in front of me. Me not shooting it because of a ruin that he built over 150 years ago. “My progeny is an idiot,” he would probably say, I know that my grandmother would. I’ll bet they never passed up on a free rabbit. But the house is pleased, and it’s all that’s left of any of them.

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Um, awesome?!

http://www.fla-keys.com/flashfiction/

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